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Former Councilors' View: Even we agree street plan is a good plan

When we served on the Duluth City Council together, our approach to government, how to fund city services, and our budget priorities differed widely. We disagreed far more often than not.

Over the years, however, working for Duluth, we developed a mutual respect.

And today, we both support the proposed street improvement plan and the proposed funding source of an additional half-cent sales tax.

Because Minnesota does not apply sales tax on necessities like food and clothing, this tax is far less regressive than the property tax. And, because all people who live elsewhere and work in Duluth — visitors as well as Duluthians — will pay this tax, it distributes the investment in our streets more fairly, lessening the cost of street repair to homeowners and businesses. When a visitor comes to Duluth and they purchase an item for $6, that extra three cents from the half-cent tax will help pay for the streets and sidewalks they’re sharing with Duluthians. We think that’s fair.

Every year the city struggles with general-fund allocations. For example, does public safety get cut to help fund park maintenance, plowing, and other services? Often the answer is to cut street repairs, as the poor condition of our streets demonstrates.

If the majority of Duluthians vote yes for streets on Nov. 7, pending legislative approval, more money will be available in the general fund for necessities like public safety, street plowing, libraries, and other city services. Most importantly, the streets will have their own dedicated funding source that can only be spent on street and sidewalk repair. This is a critical point that demonstrates the city’s serious commitment to fixing our streets.

This is an affordable and sensible plan. We urge you to join us in voting yes for streets on Nov. 7.

Sharla Gardner represented District 3 on the Duluth City Council from 2008 to 2016. Todd Fedora represented District 1 on the Duluth City Council from 2008 to 2012.